DELC Research Seminar Series (DRSS) – Decolonising Minds and Methods (Mediating Voices – Film Studies)

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


In this session, we highlight two key approaches to decolonising Film Studies. In both cases, we look at the ways in which filmmakers draw on testimonial archives and oral histories, focusing on the voice and exploiting the aural aspects of cinema, in order to tell the stories of marginalised subjectivities.

The mediation of the voice of Indigenous populations by allied white middle-class filmmakers has been a controversial issue historically. Nowadays, despite a certain democratisation of the means of cinematic production and distribution, other types of mediation, remediation and gatekeeping, including academic, are still in place.

Isabel Seguí will look at the mediation of the voices of subalternised subjects in Latin American cinema using a range of methodologies (oral history, personal archive, textual analysis…) and approaches (feminist, decolonial, anti-auteurist….) in order to problematise interclass alliances in cinematic processes and practices and their textual results.

In addition to critically examining the mediation of Black and Indigenous voices by white filmmakers, another priority of decolonial approaches to Film Studies is to recentre scholarly discussions around films (as well as theory and philosophy) by people of colour.

Katie Pleming focus will be on Mati Diop’s short film Atlantiques (2009). The film reflects on the stories of young men from Senegal and their migration to Europe, and on those who are left behind to reckon with the tragedies which befall them on their journeys.

Diop uses sound to draw us into the ethical world of the film, engaging the spectator in a practice of listening which encompasses the linguistic and the sonic, as the film moves from the fraught registering of testimony to the sensual, sonic world of the film’s setting. At the same time, Diop reflects on her own dual heritage and interweaves historical contexts through her use of voiceover and archival material.

Just as voices are layered, so are different registers of film language: Diop blends documentary with experimental film form, and moves between the urgency of testimony and sequences of mute emotion.

As such, through sound, via voice, silence, and noise, Diop invites us to attend to these layers of existence, immersing us in an encounter with the lives and afterlives of these young migrant men and their communities.

Period17 Mar 2022
Held atSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
Degree of RecognitionInternational